The victim suffered from schizophrenia and was referred to the clinical trial program run by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.
Just before entering, Liu was pre-screened at the hospital. Although electrocardiogram (EKG) test results were abnormal and described “possible heart disease,” he was declared asymptomatic and cleared for entry in the trial in February 2009. Attorneys for the family told Fox 11 News:
“He should have never been in that study to begin with, and when they got that lab work back, they should have said ‘You know what, we’ll go find another subject.'”
Unfortunately, after being given injections of Risperdal, his condition worsened. Doctors noted increasing liver enzyme levels and another EKG showed worsening heart problems.
Just days after starting the clinical trial, Liu was admitted to an acute-care hospital, where he died the following day. According to Law360:
“An autopsy revealed his cause of death was dilated cardiomyopathy, a heart injury and ‘readily treatable’ condition that can be ‘further complicated’ by the use of Risperdal.”
Doctors testified that Liu would have had a 50% better chance of surviving had he been transferred to the acute-care hospital at the first sign of elevated liver enzymes.
The overall award was $8 million, but the jury only assigned 70% of the blame to employees of Janssen Pharmaceuticals ($5.6 million), according to West Side Today. The lawsuit accused Janssen employees of negligence for failing to properly pre-screen Liu and ignoring signs of medical distress.